Do you have a compost at home you have questions about? Maybe you’re interested in the idea, but don’t know where to start? On Wednesday June 15, Akil (aka the wormy godfather) from The Box of Life will visit the Brookfield High School to offer an indoor / outdoor composting workshop.
Are you getting uneasy about climate change? Do you wonder if there is something you could do to help mitigate your contribution to climate change? Twenty people participated in an eco-focused Jane’s Walk sponsored by OSEAN to 4 different sites where the actions residents have taken towards sustainability could be viewed and discussed.
Dave and Ruth Wilkins invited people to see their ground source heat pump and EV and generously answered many questions about the benefits of and how their equipment works.
Lynne Patenaude from OSEAN explained the rationale and process of building a pollinator garden from scratch in an area with very poor and compacted soil. She spoke of the importance of providing food and shelter to pollinators and the difficulty of working with the City to access City owned land.
The Conte family demonstrated how their permeable driveway wicks away water and reminded us that it is not always straightforward when working with contractors.
Heather Dunlop provided an overview of her solar system, air source heat pump, heat pump water heater and EV. None of the leaders are technical experts but they are knowledgeable in the operation and benefits of each system and many questions were asked and answered. Each, through their own journey towards sustainability, is doing what they can and what is meaningful to them.
The overriding lesson from this day’s event was that although no one has a completely carbon free lifestyle, there are a wide range of actions we can take to reduce our carbon emissions. We hope that their actions provide inspiration to others.
OSEAN invites you to join us for an eco-focused walk in Ottawa’s Riverview Park neighbourhood. Get inspired with ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and support the local environment.
Date: Saturday May 6
Registration: Please reserve your spot at Jane’s Walk Ottawa (registration opens April 24)
About the walk: 2 hour (2 km) tour starting from and ending at Riverview Alternative School, 260 Knox Crescent. We will be visiting a home with a ground source heat pump, then walking to a pollinator garden. The final visit is to a home with solar panels. We will be talking to the homeowners and gardener who will share their knowledge and experience in hopes of inspiring others to embrace more sustainable practices. Questions will be welcome.
Accessibility: please note there are some stairs along the route.
April is full of promise for gardeners; the days grow longer, the wind hints of spring, and the snow melts. But as we eagerly anticipate outdoor gardening, it’s important to remember that jumping into yard work too early can undermine your success later in the season. That’s because your garden’s ecosystem relies on the early spring “mess” in your yard. In fact, many beneficial insects remain protected by leaves, twigs, and branches through the cold months. These critters are the kinds of friends every gardener should welcome; they include pollinators, such as the native Mason Bee and Spangled Fritillary Butterfly caterpillars, as well as beneficial insects like ground beetles. As temperatures warm up, they become active during parts of some days, but still need shelter on cooler days and nights.
A good rule of thumb is to hold off on your cleanup until temperatures are consistently above 10oC (50oF) for at least 7 consecutive days. Delay cutting back last year’s growth on perennials, cleaning up your leaves, mowing your lawn, and adding mulch to beds. If you absolutely cannot wait to get out there with your clippers, a second-best option is to keep the pieces of cut stem until the weather warms up. You can simply pile this material out of the way in your yard. If you want to take it a step further, you can create DIY insect hotels by tying stems or twigs into small bundles together with jute twine. Hang your hotels in a tree or lean them against a fence.
It is safe to prune trees and shrubs before temperatures rise; just keep an eye out for cocoons and chrysalises. Some butterflies and moths (lepidoptera) spend the winter in the pupate phase attached to last year’s growth. For example, Ottawa residents may find Cecropia Moth cocoons and Black Swallowtail Butterfly chrysalis. If you find one, simply skip that branch or stalk for a later time.
For those who struggle to ignore the leaves, or who have mixed feelings about encouraging insect populations in the yard, try to imagine the leaf litter as a buffet of early food for insect-eating birds. Many of our beloved local birds rely on insects to feed their young, and leaves in your yard can provide prime hunting ground. By taking a relaxed approach to raking, you are supporting an essential base step in local food chains.
While waiting for warmer weather, you can scratch your gardening itch by learning more about ecologically-responsible gardening. Here are a few resources to get you started:
It’s the time of year when we either take out the shovels or take out the road salt.
De-icing your steps and driveway using traditional road salt comes at a steep environmental and financial price. Environmentally it increases the salinity (salt content) of soils, damages plants, contaminates ground and surface water, and leads to the death of aquatic life. Financially, because salt is corrosive, it damages fabric, metal (cars, trucks, bicycles) and our roads. This can total more than $5 billion a year.
What is the issue exactly? When road salt dissolves in water, it forms sodium and chloride ions; it is the chloride ions that are most problematic for roadside plants, for aquatic ecosystems and particularly amphibians, fish and invertebrates. Chloride ions are quite persistent in water, so the chloride concentration in streams can remain high long after its initial introduction.Recent results from a study by the Ottawa Riverkeeper revealed that chloride levels in Pinecrest, Graham and Moore creeks exceeded the Canadian Council of Minister for the Environment (CCME) chronic toxicity threshold in all samples assessed, and exceeded the acute (short-term) toxicity threshold on several occasions. From January through March (as a direct result of the application of road salt), all three creeks contained chloride concentrations at a level that was unsafe for many aquatic organisms. As well, other studies have shown that increasing the saltiness (salinity) of natural water ways can make it easier for invasive and toxic species to thrive and spread.Canadians use up to seven million tonnes of salt each year to help clear icy roads. Salt corrosion is pricey and dangerous for cars as it can damage brakes and increases vehicle depreciation, with an estimated cost of $800 a year (updated for inflation). Although corrosion-resistant coatings have improved, they are hardly “green.”Salt also corrodes the rebar in many concrete structures such as bridges and buildings, leading to their accelerated destruction. It is estimated that total damage done by road salt on infrastructure is as high as $687 per tonne of salt – a high price to pay when alternatives exist.Two alternatives that are easier on your wallet, your pets and the environment were tested last year by Ottawa residents as part of the “Halt the Salt Challenge” organized by the Ottawa South Eco Action Network. Residents found that traction aids Ecotraction (a volcanic mineral) and Eco Ice Grip (wood chips impregnated with magnesium chloride) were both helpful in preventing slips and falls, with the added bonus that they are made in Canada.
This year, before reaching for the salt, consider what you want to achieve. Do you need to completely melt the ice and snow on your driveway? Or do you just need to make sure there is a safe path to walk for you, your neighbours and your kids (four-legged or two)? If you want to minimize your financial and environmental impact answer these three questions:
• Am I choosing the right product? (Road salt will melt ice, while traction aids such as Eco Ice grip will prevent you from slipping.)
• Am I using the right amount? (2 tbsp of road salt will melt one square metre of space.)• Am I applying it at the right time? (Road salt only melts ice above -15 C;) if it’s colder than that, or going to get colder, you are throwing your money away. During early winter and spring, check the weather: if it’s going to warm up significantly over the next day, you may not need to use anything)
If you find, like other residents, that the alternatives are effective, consider approaching your condo board, apartment landlord and even the city, to reassess what type of product they use, or how much and when they use it. We have all seen the piles of road salt that can be left behind, wasting our tax dollars, damaging our roads and our cars. We can do better – and there is much benefit to be had.
Thank you to • Food for Thought Ottawa • Foodsharing Ottawa • Uplands Community Council • Riverside Park Community Association – RPCA for working with us and supporting this event. • Special thanks to Crestway Construction + Design for volunteering a trailer for transportation.
Together we can make food waste and food insecurity less spooky.
Farms include: • Arc Acres • Stanley’s Ole Maple Farm, • Madahoki Farm Kiwan Farms
Food Centres include: • Orléans-Cumberland CRC Dalhousie Food Cupboard • Heron Emergency Food Centre • Debra Dynes Family House • CRC Rideau-Rockcliffe CRC
A cruise ship with 1000 people is travelling across the North Atlantic.
They are told that they are on course for a collision with an iceberg.
Their decision-making is democratic; the captain’s input is taken into consideration but they do not rely solely on the captain’s advice. All 1000 have the franchise. Here are the results of their discussions.
Interpretations of the evidence
Some deny the iceberg exists.
Some deny there is any risk from the iceberg.
Some think the iceberg will melt before the ship reaches the iceberg.
Some accept the risk but are sure fate will determine the outcome.
Some think perhaps the ship and iceberg are not really on a collision course
What to do?
Some want to go right.
Some want to go left.
Some want to stay the course.
Some want to back up.
Some want to stop and wait.
Some want to fire a torpedo to move the iceberg out of the way.
Some want to send a boat to the iceberg and light a fire to melt it.
Some want to send a delegation to the iceberg to negotiate a compromise.
It takes time to research the situation, go to the iceberg and take measurements.
It takes time to educate all 1000 voters.
It takes time and effort to convince the passengers of the risk.
Have you ever thought how nice it would be to reduce your carbon footprint by investing in an electric vehicle? And how as a bonus, you would no longer spew soot, carbon monoxide, sulphur, nitrates, and other pollutants into the air?
I have been tootling around town in a Nissan Leaf since 2018 when I bought the vehicle in advance of the 2018 Ontario provincial election, anticipating that the new government would reduce or eliminate the generous EV rebate. Luckily, I was able to purchase the vehicle and take advantage of the rebate before it was eliminated. However, at the time, the available EV’s in my price range were limited. I settled on the Nissan Leaf as a vehicle with an excellent track record and a range of about 240 kilometers. This was just enough to get to my cottage and back to the city.
Before our long trip this winter, I had never used a Level 3 DC fast charger, as I had read that it was better for the battery to use a level 2 (240V) or trickle (120V) charger. In fact, the only public charger I had used was a L2 ChargePoint charger at a library in the west end of Ottawa.
In preparation for the trip, I drove to Prescott to use the L3 Circuit Électrique charger at the Tim Horton’s, right off the 401. This charger is only 93 km from my home. I made it easily and charged successfully, which buoyed my confidence. There is also an IVY L3 charger right off the 416 at Route 43 in Kemptville that I used successfully a couple weeks later.
So, off we went to visit the rellies. Dog, adult son, gifts, suitcases, etc. – a fully loaded car, with winter tires and winter weather. We had to turn on the defroster every few minutes and use the headlights and windshield washers so I could see to drive. All of this puts extra load on the battery.
I had carefully located EV chargers along our route planning to top up every 100 km or so. This turned out to be about right for the car and the conditions. Note that this is less than half of the rated range. We were lucky. Only one charger was not working and none of the chargers were occupied when we pulled up. At one L3 charger I called for assistance from the network because the RFID card didn’t work and they were able to start the charge remotely. At the one L3 that was not working, I was redirected to a L2 charger. We charged there for about 2 hours while we had a delicious dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s. Unfortunately, we did not wait long enough to ensure adequate percent charge and crawled, on the very last bit of juice in the battery, with the car screaming at me to Stop and Charge the Battery!!!, to the L2 charger where we were staying that night. To state the obvious, I never want to do that again! and what a relief that the hotel charger was unoccupied and functional! Thank you Marriott!
Coming home, we used more L3 chargers and fewer L2 chargers and that made the return trip a good deal faster but we still needed to plug in about 10 times to go 850 km. A trip that would usually take 8 hours, took us 13 hours. Although it might have been better to spend that five hours with family, we had an enjoyable time exploring the towns along the way, went for a short hike at one place, enjoyed a pizza lunch at another and took advantage of the local restroom facilities while the car charged. Total cost for charging was $101.
There was one other worry at the back of my mind and that was the fact that fast charging causes the battery to heat up. There is a battery temperature gauge which I checked several times over the course of the day. After 3 or 4 fast charges, it registered about half way to the red end. After another couple fast charges it was up to about 75% to the red end. So it, in fact, was heating up even though the outdoor temperature was only about 3 degrees C. After leaving it overnight, the battery temperature had dropped to its normal temperature close to the blue end and the battery capacity gauge still read full.
Now, did I really need to plug in that many times? No. But in case a charger was not working, I wanted to have enough juice after getting to the charger to drive to another charger. Pulling in to most charging locations, we still had over 40% charge. The maximum distance we drove between chargers was 120 km after an overnight charge that gave us 100% SOC by morning. We still had 35% charge when we pulled in to the next charger.
With proper planning, we had a great trip with little inconvenience except for extra time spent at L2 chargers.
Some advice for taking an EV on long trips:
1. If you plan to take long trips, in our experience, there are about 4 times as many CCS as CHAdeMO L3 chargers. Maybe car manufacturers are switching to CCS electrical connectors, but check the electrical connectors to be sure you will not have difficulty finding chargers. All EV’s use the J1772 connector for L2 charging and, aside from Tesla which has its own connector, they all have the CCS, CHAdeMO or CCS-J1772 combo L3 connector.
2. Get a vehicle with adequate range. Understand that the stated range is the BEST range, not the range under difficult driving conditions like cold winter weather and darkness. Assuming that the range will drop by half under the worst conditions should give you adequate leeway.
3. Remember that when you use a fast charger, you should only charge to around 80% to preserve battery capacity. So right off the top, you lose 20% of battery range. And you don’t want to let the battery run right down like I did. That is really not good for the battery. You should charge it before it gets to 10% and you should leave a bit extra to find another charger. That leaves about 60-65% of the total range for driving.
4. Test how far you can go on a 60-80% charge under the same conditions that you expect to experience on your trip before you head out and plan your trip from charger to charger accordingly. PlugShare.com and ChargeHub.com are excellent for finding EV charging stations in North America.
5. There are multiple EV charging networks, each with their own app and RFID (Radio Frequency ID) card. Each network requires you to register for an account. Then you can get an RFID card, usually for a small fee, which is then sent to you in the mail. Some require you to put money on the card and/or app. On our trip, ChargePoint seemed to be everywhere. EVgo was largely in northeastern US, Flo in Quebec and Ontario, IVY in Ontario, Circuit Électrique in Quebec and Ontario, EV Connect is in an area that includes most of New York state but not eastern NY. Electrify America was sporadic, and there is an Electrify Canada that I have not encountered yet. Greenlots (a.k.a. Shell Recharge Solutions) has an agreement with EvolveNY (New York Power Authority), so you can use the Greenlots app at EvolveNY stations but you can also use a credit card. Each station is specific to one network. My advice is to get all the cards and apps for all the stations you expect to use because many do not take credit cards. To use the apps, you must have cellular access on your phone. But the advantage is that you can see on the app how long it has been charging, how fast it is charging (i.e., the kw going in), and the state of charge which is handy if you go into a restaurant. It will also notify you when the battery gets to 80% SOC.
6. Check PlugShare.com for EV chargers on your route and read the Check-ins to see if there were recent successful charges by other vehicle drivers. If no one left a check-in for several months, there may be a problem with that charger. If you have a successful (or unsuccessful) charge, let others know by submitting a check-in. You will need to get the PlugShare app to do this. If you encounter a problem, the charging network should be alerted by your check-in and send someone to fix the problem. Alas, sometimes this doesn’t happen for weeks.
7. Many L2 chargers are free and have amenities nearby for eating and enjoying the local sights. If you have the time, it is a great way to see the country and meet the locals.
Do you have reason to have range anxiety on long trips? Yes and No. Until there are L3 chargers every 50 km or so along the highways, it’s never going to be completely worry free. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing. The more EV’s there are, the more likely the folks in charge of building EV charging networks will be to install EV chargers. The more EV chargers there are, the more likely people will be to buy EV’s. With the number of EV’s on the road increasing, the number of chargers is also increasing. So plan your trip well and you should have few problems finding a charger. That said, if your car has limited range like mine, then know that there is only 1 L2 charger near the highway between Watertown and Syracuse. Actually there are 2 but I noticed that no one had made any comments at the other one so I chose the one with lots of positive comments.
But if you have a level 2 charger or even just a regular 120V outlet in your driveway or where you park your car if you live in a multi-unit building, the likelihood that you will run out of charge in Ottawa is minimal. I try to use public transit and walk and cycle as much as possible which means I don’t use my car while in the city very much. I charge the Leaf every 2-3 weeks. One charge might give me several trips across the city and back before I need to charge again.
Do you have experience with long trips in an EV you would like to share? Please leave a comment or get in touch by email at email@example.com